Transformation Capability : Improving the ability to change in public organizations

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för informatik (IK)

Abstract: Changes take place every day in business and society. Some are relatively slow like for example changes related to globalization, demographics, and the environment. Other changes related to technology can be faster and more disruptive. Some events, like the Covid-19 pandemic, are especially disruptive and may trigger rapid changes with extensive impact. Regardless of the change it is valuable for organizations to be able to adapt. The public sector is now challenged by increasing cost pressures, an ageing population, new demands from various groups as well as new workforce requirements and this creates a need for transformation. Previous research with regards to transformation capability focused on concepts like dynamic capabilities, organizational ambidexterity, organizational change capacity, organizational change competence, or organizational agility but there seem to be a lack of studies of the concept specifically related to the public sector. In addition, a recent study by the Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise concluded that the research area is fragmented and that it lacks studies on how employees can contribute to organizational change competence. The purpose of this thesis was thus to investigate how transformation capability of public sector organizations can be improved from an employee- or actor perspective. To explore the research question a qualitative and explorative method was used. Theoretical literature related to transformation as well as transformation capability, was used to build knowledge around the study topic. Two different surveys with open-ended questions were used to collect data from the Swedish public sector organization selected for the study. The first survey was used as a probe to build some initial understanding of transformation practice in the organization. The second one focused specifically on how different actors could contribute to improve transformation capability. The results gave a good general overview of how the transformation capability can be improved from different actor perspectives related to the organization. By using the results together with the existing theoretical frameworks of transformation capability a new more people-centric model of transformation capability was proposed and used to explore ways of improvement. The conclusion was that transformation capability of public sector organizations can be improved by leveraging the performance measures, the actors, the process, the culture/mindset, and the technology that are involved in transformation work. A proactive, collaborative and cross-organizational approach to improvement of transformation capability over time should decrease the risk for negative effects from future disruptions and create a more viable and sustainable organization.

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